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  • Simon Boardman

Happy Holidays - Our Gift to You...Ten Predictions for 2020

Ten for Twenty

Here’s Verto’s “predictions” for 2020. These are based on some observations from 2019 and our reading of the tea leaves. Just to remind you, while some of these are obviously more serious than others, there’s the constant “hum of humor”. But as we know, just because something strikes us as amusing, doesn’t mean it’s trivial as well.


1. Email’s decline continues. The email engine companies' attempts to make it more difficult for you to send emails (using their systems) actually starts to pay off…This seems strange as our demand for such systems will also decline, but it would explain why Salesforce has invested zero dollars in Pardot!

2. The conflict between trust and attribution continues to be denied in the race for the undeniable physical evidence of ROI. As some continue the “holy crusade of attribution”, people ignore the notion that trust (or the lack of it) is central to B2B sales and marketing success and that an exclusive focus on attribution drives suspicion of the prospect higher, which drives results and lead yields lower. Suspicion rises, trust declines, demand gen results go south, and the nightmare of denial and recrimination continues.

3. The distinction between sales and marketing becomes recognized as increasingly pointless. Some companies disband both organizations recruiting a new range of professionals but without restricting their thinking by applying outdated labels (like Sales or Marketing). The new departments are called “Sshhmarketing”.

4. LinkedIn Listlessness. Somebody starts a rumor that the only people on LinkedIn are other sales and marketing people AND those trying to sell LinkedIn lead gen tactics, technologies and ideas. Microsoft deny this in a communication that also coincidently offers a webinar series on “Demand Gen ideas that Maximize your Investment in Sales Navigator.” I am reminded that someone recently said that in short order B2B social media marketing would quickly “go the way of the fax machine."

5. Sales method, enablement and training people wake up and realize that all those assumptions about the rationality of the buyer (that use labels like “economic buyers”) are out of date as humans are apparently irrational (who knew?). They realize that trying to assign reasons for buyers’ behavior based on ideas like fear, desire or obligation (whilst being good thoughts) are impossible to practically assign to individual buyers as anything more conclusive would require a Jedi Mind Trick or Vulcan Mind-Meld (depending on your Star Wars or Star Trek allegiance). This is often because buyers don’t really know the answer themselves, and when they do… guess what? They lie.

6. Enlightened sales and marketing leaders recognize the need for more thoughtful approaches as to how they make decisions regarding marketing strategy, demand gen tactics and sales enablement activities. In other words, some stop following the crowd and listening to people who caveat everything they say with the phrase “best practice”.

7. Some sales leaders stop using the hunter/farmer mentality, instead adopting a team idea that mixes sellers who are willing and able to challenge the contemporary thinking of an organization and upset the status quo (creating demand) with those who are better at working emerging projects with buyers who are moving into a buying cycle (active demand).

8. Companies (often kids living in their parents’ basement) will continue to develop sales and marketing software whose benefit appears to most of us to be niche (at best) and downright obscure (at worse). Examples would include apps to detect what color shirt the prospect was wearing when they didn’t click on your link, “buyer intent apps” that claim to know what the prospect had for lunch and an on line test that can determine how little most people know about digital marketing tools, despite claiming to be “experts” – superfluous to requirements as we have learned to assume this already. The PE and VC firms will continue to throw money at these until most of these firms join the ranks of the “walking dead” where debt far exceeds what they’ll ever make to pay it off. What the PE and VC guys will realize is that most of these firms don’t have anything compelling, and despite claims to the counter, the founders lack real ambition, don’t want to work that hard and are actually quite happy living cheap in their parents’ basement.

9. After the WeWork debacle, companies will continue to take the idea that “all companies are technology companies” literally and position themselves to be something they obviously are not. We expect to see this in the soft drink space as a global provider positions itself in the technology health drink space (the technology being in liquid form), and fast food chains will emphasize the technology enabled “buying experience” of said food to be paramount rather than the pleasure experienced from consuming said food. The Wall St experts will continue to fall for it (like they did with WeWork) while the rest of us once more wonder whether it’s really us who “just don’t get it”.

10. The 10 Most Annoying Words of 2019 - So here’s 10 words we think established themselves as THE most annoying, misunderstood, badly used, pretentious words usually used in the wrong context in 2019 – feel free to add your own:

  • Pivot

  • Narrative

  • Granular (as in “getting granular”)

  • Juxtaposed (should only be used in discussions on philosophy)

  • Solution (that one just won't go away)

  • Content ...followed by any other word....enough already

  • Holistic

  • Robust (should be reserved for wine only)

  • Cohesion (its the new Synergy)

  • Account Based Marketing (yes, its three words that when used together are actually a category in its own right - well done)

  • Omnichannel

Annoying buzzwords are always good fun to bandy around. I know a few people who play buzzword bingo when they get on conference calls. Sounds AWESOME (hey, there's another). In all seriousness, we believe language is important and words matter (as does getting them in the right order - to quote an old Monty Python sketch). But joking aside, our careless use of language means we will soon run out of words. Then we'll have to start putting puerile adjectives or adverbs like "super" in front of everything....ooops.

So with that said....have a SUPER AWESOME XMAS.

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